Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Have You Seen The Sunrise This Morning?

Ft Myers FL, 0530

The sound of nuclear fallout sirens becomes part of a dream I'm having about bicycling across Europe.  I can hear the siren all around me, but I can't seem to find the source. I keep riding, but all around me the sounds of certain and imminent destruction continue to rain down on my ears. And then I'm awake.

Miami is a good 2 hours away from Ft. Myers. I need to get up and get ready. Traffic will probably eat up a chunk of time. 30 minutes later I am freshly laundered and ready for the day. The curtains in my hotel are drawn to ensure complete darkness while I sleep. I hate coming back to a dark and silent hotel room, it's depressing. And the overwhelming silence screams loneliness and isolation. So before I depart for the day I always do two things. First, I open the drapes all the way so when I enter my room I am greeted by the outside world through double plate glass windows. This eases the sense of claustrophobia. Second, I turn on the TV and reduce the sound to just above a whisper. The sound from the set gives the aura of a false sense of activity inside.

I take a minute to watch the dark streets outside the window. There are a few cars on the road undoubtedly others like myself who are starting their daily commute. Their days starting ahead of mine.

As I enter the lobby of the hotel I am greeted by the smell of fresh brewed coffee and the continental breakfast buffet. I inhale deeply and take a moment to enjoy the comforting smell of breakfast and the start of a new day.

Outside the air is warm and the humidity is close enough to touch. There is dew on the windows from the humidity. It takes me a few minutes to wipe it all off. In the car I roll the windows down and turn on the back window defrost as well as the front windshield. The dew on the windows won't leave without a fight.

Windshield wipers at full speed I leave the parking lot my windows are still down. The salt marsh air filters in the car freely. Soon the sun will rise and its heat will chase the dew away. As people get out and about the salty air will be replaced with smog and car exhaust. But right now the air is still fresh and the sounds of humanity are still held at bay by cover of left over night fall.

This is my favorite time of day. Yesterday and all that came with it was smothered by the darkness. Today, as he soon starts to lighten up the western sky a promise of a good thing to come still abounds.

0630 the darkness is now in full retreat. The light from the west is starting to take hold. The horizon is still pink and the clouds that are hanging low look like they are on fire. I'm on I-75 heading south to Miami. Crossing alligator alley the cool water and the heavy warm air collide, creating a low hanging fog over the Everglades. Soon it covers the freeway, making visibility difficult. The sun hasn't risen high enough to burn off the fog. But the further south I go it too goes the way of the dew on the grass.

The sun moves higher its burn is hot, clearing the freeway and making my descent south free of fog. The night time cover of darkness is now a distant memory. The colors of the Everglades start to pop. Green vegetation and pure white egrets cover the ground. Cypress trees and Sawgrass holding back the mysteries of freshwater swamps. Black gators on the tops of banks and sliding gracefully on top of the water. On the surface, it looks like an idyllic and peaceful.

The morning brightness becomes more vivid my eyes starting to squint I put my sunglasses on. This part of the freeway has 10 foot fences with barbed wire mounted on top facing the Everglades. Whatever predators are out there these fences are meant to keep them at bay. I wonder what creatures could be so big as to require 10 foot barbed wire fences. I see gators swimming in the marshes and birds of prey circling overhead. I wonder what poor creature is close to death to garner their attention.

I-75 for the most part is clear of traffic. My rental and I move at a good clip south my Nexus 7 tablets are playing my favorite podcast. I am alone with my thoughts. The voices blaring out of the car's speakers are what keeps me company.

As a rule I am a night owl. Rising early in the morning and starting the my day has never been an easy thing for me. If I had my way days wouldn't start before before 10 possibly noon. I have always felt the early morning hours are the hardest to overcome. For some it comes easily I am not one of those people.

The irony here is I love seeing the sun come up. The rising sun has always given me hopes of a better day than the one before it. What's more is that if I had my way I'd be able to blissfully sleep through it all. Joining the day well after the sun has burned off the night before.

Better still, I would start my day well after the morning commute has ended. It's now 8am and I have now stopped on the north side of Miami. Traffic is gridlocked I still have 20 miles to go and my 8:30 arrival is not looking good. As I sit there patiently waiting for traffic to start moving forward I look in my rear view mirror and am startled to see a black Cadillac STS coming at me. I see the driver. Hes just noticed I was not moving. His speed is clocked around 70. I hunch my shoulders waiting for the impact. At the last second he swerves into the adjacent lane missing me by less than a foot. His brakes fully applied his car starts to skid. His car slides over and flies past me.

My heart is racing knowing the traffic gods were with me. Had he hit me at that speed I would surely have been killed. Fortunately the other lane was moving and no one was beside him. 300 ft in the other lane to his car stops.

I take a moment to cross myself and give thanks my time on earth has been extended for a while longer.

Picking up the phone I call my wife tell her I love her and that she was almost a widow this morning. She's grateful I'm still on this earth.

As my day moves forward I'm just grateful I got to see the sunrise. And more importantly, I get to see the sunset with the promise of the new day lurking on the horizon its a good day to be alive.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Walking among Models

South Beach is a cacophony of noise made up of electro, techno drum beats smashed together with pulse pounding Latin jazz with overtures of Cuban based ballads. A visual stimulus made up of Latin infused art Deco, exposed flesh and neon colors of every stripe.

A reality producers wet dream of suntanned and stripped to the waist alpha males with over developed pectoral muscles, ABS of steel and in your face personality's that would drive ratings into the stratosphere. Of women dressed in thronged backed bikinis with strutting exposed breasts. They exude sexuality and seduction with attitude to spare.

A mythical cornucopia seen only in the fairy tales that are produced by Hollywood.

During the day the streets are lined with gleaming exotic cars from Italy with names like Ferrari, Lamborghini,  Maserati and Bentley. Corvettes, Beamers and Lexus look like using Honda's.

Hotels with rooftop bars overlooking the street, Tattoo parlors and shirt shops smashed next to and even on top of bars. The beaches filled with hard bodies who are there to worship at the feet of blue skies and sunshine. The Atlantic waves kissing the sand gently and with warmth. The air not as salty as you would think. The beaches, white the sand soft and silky against your feet. 

And when you take it all in you realize there is a reason why South Beach is the home the rich and overindulged. You no longer wonder why it's referred as the home of beautiful people. Every inch of South Beach designed for the extravagant. All of it is over the top.

It's a place where booze flows as easily as the Mississippi. 32oz mojitos and margarita's with 2 Corona bottles overturned and sticking out of the glass. Beer is served by the bucket and 2 for 1 drink specials are the first thing the hostess talks about. The menu almost an afterthought.  

Sunglasses and clothing combined with haircuts right out of Vogue or GQ. Latin playboys put together like movie Lotharios. Or cocaine cowboys. A cacophony of chest hair and bling to spare.

Soccer moms out for a run with jogging strollers. Their legs encased in spandex and yoga pants, they’re blouses tied in a knot just below their breasts. 

Tattoos and piercings are more common and frequent than a biker rally.

Your senses are overloaded your in a place that's been in the news and in the movies and it's exactly as you've seen it on TV.  It's the music, the sights and smells. To anyone whose sees it for the first time it's hard to process and you truly feel like you don't belong.

Every site more exotic than the last. Every smell more magnificent than the last. And you realize that this is exactly what the other side of the tracks is like.

And this is just during the afternoon!

Around 6pm there is a lull. The street side parking opens up. Movement on the street lets up just a bit and then like coming out of a fog bikini clad women sporting sarongs begin to appear in full force followed by hard bodied and bare chested men. The human beach traffic that just minutes ago were being bathed in sunshine are now looking for a meal and new conquests to pursue. There is an odd mix of beach bodies and smartly dressed upwardly mobile couples roaming the street elbow to elbow.

A new coalition of sites and sounds assault the senses. The music seems to have picked up an energy that wasn't there before. 

New languages appear that weren't there before. Happy hour is in full swing the booze is coming in greater quantity and is much more freely than before. The mob consuming it quickly before happy hour ends and the 2 for 1 specials closes out.

Neon Lights bouncing off of the art Deco buildings, breathing new life into South Beach as afternoon turn to evening and then melting into nightfall.

After spending 4 hours on South Beach it was time for me to go. The nightlife was one that I wanted to see, but just couldn't stay for.

The thing I didn't mention were the models. This weekend was the annual Model Beach Volleyball tournament. I watched a few rounds. Runway vs Print. I wasn't aware there was a thing between the two disciplines. But I guess there was. The thing is watching models play volleyball wasn't as fun as one might think. They had been out there for the better part of 8 hours and the bloom was off the rose for them. Their hearts weren't just into it.

And I couldn't shake the thought that I was really on a set of a rom-com movie titled Runway vs Print. The model version of Alien vs Predator.

And the other thing was. They just were no match for my wife in the looks or body department. So while i did take photos (more for everyone else than myself, I assure you) none of them could stand up against the woman I love and adore.My  modeltific wife just had them beat hands down. Her looks and figure so far above them that nary once did my loins quiver with lust in foreign or domestic.

This was supposed to be a weekend getaway for the anniversary of 10 years and the honeymoon we never had. Disappointed and saddened I was that I would not be able to share this experience with her.

For 4 hours I was in the land of model OZ. I was rudely shaken from my dream when I decided it was time to eat. There is an Irish pub called Finnegan's on South Beach and I had a hankering for some corned beef.

How was I rudely awakened you ask?? Simple When I asked the waitress how was the corned beef?

I got this for a response. "Corned Beef"? "I have no idea". "Let me ask".

And there it was I was back.